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Better Recovery

The CCR5 gene, when turned off, may improve the recovery from strokes or traumatic brain injuries, Scientific American reports.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and their colleagues tested the effects of knocking down the CCR5 gene in a mouse model of stroke. CCR5, they note, is typically expressed in cortical neurons following stroke. As they report in Cell this week, knocking down CCR5 or applying a CCR5 agonist — developed as an HIV drug — promotes recovery.

The researchers further examined a cohort of about 500 adults with stroke to find that people with naturally occurring loss-of-function CCR5 mutations had improved stroke recovery on a number of measures.

"I do believe this is the beginning of hope," co-author Alcino Silva from UCLA tells Scientific American.

The researchers have started a clinical trial in which stroke patients are given this drug in addition to physical therapy, it adds.

CCR5, Scientific American writes, gained infamy last November when researcher He Jiankui announced that he had edited that gene within the genomes of twin girls as embryos to prevent HIV infection.